Locks and Traps
In the tradition of Grimtooth, I have some lock and trap ideas that I
can't resist putting out there. Hope you DM's out there have some fun with
Locks and Keys
In order to pick a lock, a thief needs to be able to reach the lock with his
or her lockpicks, correct? This lock should be set in the wall next to the
door. For it to work, the wall must be 3 or more feet thick. The lock is
set in a hole bored into the wall approximately a foot or two deep. The result is
that a long-stemmed key will open the lock (say, a mace pommel that screws
off to reveal a key?), but lockpicks will not - unless the thief carries
very long, hard to conceal lockpicks!
Glyph of Warding Lock
This lock is a specially prepared magical lock. The keyhole plate has a
small glyph of warding inscribed around the keyhole. The glyph is enspelled
against any metal objects being put through the keyhole to do an electrical
discharge at the offending item (for damage, see Glyph of Warding
spell in the Player's Handbook). Said charge travels through the lockpicks
of whoever is trying to pick the lock, and (hopefully) deters them from
trying again. The lock would have to be "reset" per the Glyph of Warding
Tapestry Lock and Key
The first component of this duo is a sapphire pear-cut necklace, about the
size of a typical key without the stem. When both sides of the necklace are
pressed, an illusion of a keystem appears to sprout out the point of the
necklace. The key is attuned to a tapestry - typically a large tapestry with
a door bearing a keyhole somewhere in the picture. When the illusionary key
is inserted into the keyhole on the tapestry, the tapestry shifts into an
Lockpick eating lock
The way this trapped lock works is that there are a pair of small textured
rollers that snap together from either side to trap a lockpick. The rollers
turn and "suck" the key into the lock (presumably out the other side), much
like the rollers in a pitching machine throw a ball. If the thief gets
through the lock without understanding its nature, it will be amusing to see
a reaction when a pile of lockpicks is described on the floor beyond the door!
A fairly simple trick, but one that players will not necessarily think of. Have
a door with a rotating doorknob (like a typical modern door) leads into a
room. The only other door in the room can only be opened with a magical
key. The doorknobs and the stem connecting them are the key to the magical
lock. The key is produced by pressing in the doorknob on both sides of the
door, twisting the knobs in opposite directions, and pulling, which gives
you a knob, and a knob with the stem, which is the key to the other door.
There may be clues you can give the characters, such as having a round
depression in the other door that the keyhole is in. You could also clue the
PC's in by using a verse inscribed in the door - perhaps "The way in is the
way out" or "Your method of entry is the key to your departure". As an
added unpleasant twist, removal of the doorknob may cause the entry door to
shut and permenantly lock, and force the characters to face what lies
beyond the exit door.
Word of Recall Lock
This is a specially made padlock with a variant of the clerical spell
Word of Recall cast upon an item in the lock. There is a small clay
tile in the lock that the modified Word of Recall is cast upon. When
the lock is opened, the tile is broken. Whoever is in contact with the lock
when the tile is broken is teleported with the lock to a pre-set location (a
jail cell, the bottom of a dry well, on a pillar in a volcano, etc.).
Fake Door/Panel Door
Simply a misdirection effort here - have the opening of a lock in a door
actually unlock a sliding panel next to the door (or across the room). The
door may simply not open, or if you are in a nasty mood, opening the door
leads to a small closet where a pre-arranged fireball detonates.
Animated Stone Lock
This lock necessitates a number of powerful spells (Contingency, Animate
Stone, etc.). The net result is that if the proper key is not used, a
stone hand shoots out of the door (presumably stone also)and grabs the hand
of the offending thief, pulls it into the door, then de-animates, leaving the
thief with his hand embedded in the stonework. The thief would get a Dexterity
check at 1/2 to avoid the trap. The trap may or may not reset itself at DM
Pivoting Water-filling Hallway
All right, you come up with a better name for it! This trap centers
in a hallway, perhaps 30-50 feet long. There are doors every 10 feet, with
small 1 foot by 1 foot barred windows in them. The doors are locked but can
be picked. However, before the next door in the hallway can be opened, the
one before it must be closed and locked. The last door in line looks like
the others, except there is darkness past the window opening. Dispelling the
darkness shows blank stone beyond the window (there's nothing there - yet).
When you get to the end of the
hallway and try to open the last door, a mechanism is triggered that pivots
the entire hallway from horizontal to vertical, so the party is now standing
at the bottom of a shaft. Once the hallway stops at vertical (takes 2 rounds),
a barrier (magical or non, your choice) moves aside and pressurized water
begins to fill the hallway. The water level rises 10 feet every 2 rounds
(10'/round if you have an exceptionally tough party). The windows in the
doors allow the water level to pass the doors, but party members still have
to pick the locks and relock the doors to get out the top. What is at the
top is up to the DM. Could be more of the place the PC's are exploring,
could be a blank wall (sucks to be them!).
This 20' ladder looks like a standard wooden ladder with one rung every two
feet. The weight limit of the eighth rung up is drastically less than the
rest of the ladder. The rungs of the ladder are actually hollow, with a
thin diamond-dusted wire running through the center of the rung. The wire
is much stronger than the rung and will not break. When the full weight of
the person on the ladder crashes to the rungs below, they also will break,
revealing diamond dusted wires. The wires will slice through anything that
is not metal or magically enchanted (leather boots, gloves, etc.). End
result: anyone on the ladder when it breaks takes 1d4 damage for every rung
up the ladder they are. A successful Dexterity check cuts the damage in half.
The heart of the matter
The setup of this trap is that there is a grossly obscene looking growth at
the end of a corridor, looking like a large veiny heart. The heart is the
seal for a highly pressurized fluid filled chamber that keeps the ceiling suspended over
the hallway. The first instinct of a player is likely to be to shoot it. If
the heart is pierced, the seal is ruptured and all the liquid is let out, causing
the ceiling to come down and crush the party in the hallway.
This trap is highly magical in nature - many wishes are used to keep this
trap in place!
The trap consists of a square room divided into a grid. The
grid squares should be 10' on a side. The ceiling of the room should be about
5' high. The grid squares each look like transparent cubes of light, from
the floor to the ceiling. The grid should be at least 6 x 6 squares. You
will probably want to chart out the grid on graph paper. Mark squares that
would be a clear path from one side of the room to the other, like the
|X|| || ||X||X||X|
| ||X|| || || || |
| ||X||X||X||X|| |
| || || || || || |
| ||X||X||X|| ||X|
Assume the door into the room is at the bottom of the grid in the left hand
corner. Assume the door out of the room is the second square in from the
left at the top of the grid. For each of the clear squares, count the
squares around it with "x"'s, and put that number in the square, like the
Now you are ready to see how this trap works...
How it works
The squares that are "clear" (that have numbers in them) will not do anything
to the characters but sound a tone as many times as the number in the square.
If a character enters a square with an "x" in it, the player takes damage
(no saving throw): 1d8 per time that a cube with an "x" has been entered.
Thus, the first time it happens, the character takes 1d8. The second time,
whichever character that tries to enter the "x" square takes 2d8, and so on.
In order for a square to be considered as entered, the space that cube
occupies must be entered (so if you stick a hand out over the line between
one cube and the next, you have entered that cube). Since the sides of the
cube have no real seperation, there is no way to travel diagnally without
entering one of the cubes adjacent first.
The square will not discharge until a sentient being crosses into it. Coins,
golems, and other unthinking objects will not set it off. Eventually, the
trap can be cleared through logic (as if you were playing a small game of
minesweeper), or through a lot of trial and error!
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